Developing a school-wide culture of good behaviour

Leading behaviour expert Tom Bennett is calling on the government to make changes to the way that schools tackle behaviour in a new DfE-commissioned report that also calls on the government to collect behaviour data to allow schools to be compared.

24 March 2017 | Education

The recently published report by the Chair of the Department for Education’s Behaviour Group has identified poor student behaviour as a national concern.

The author of Creating a Culture: How school leaders can optimise behaviour, Tom Bennett, told the BBC: “Behaviour has not been taken seriously enough in the past, and the official data underestimates the extent of the problem in all schools.”

 Instead, a culture of good behaviour must be “well-established and universally known”, Mr Bennett said. These should include clear rules, consequences, sanctions and rewards, as well as expectations for behaviour in different parts of the school.

Part of the solution, in our view, would be to invest in prevention programmes such the Good Behaviour Game (GBG), an evidence-based approach to classroom management that helps children learn how to work together to create a positive learning environment. The Game is for primary school children and based on simple rules encouraging pupils to support one another as they complete classroom assignments. Mentor is currently running a two-year trial of the GBG, funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). This ground-breaking research will measure the impact of the GBG intervention in UK schools.

Several trials across the USA, Europe and Africa over 40 years have shown the GBG to have dramatic benefits on children’s behaviour. Research from the US showed children who received the GBG had a reduction of 35% in lifetime alcohol abuse or dependence when aged 19-21.

The GBG’s educational and health benefits include:

  • Immediate improvements in pupil behaviour, particularly for disruptive boys
  • Improved attainment and achievement
  • Increased numbers of students continuing into further education
  • Reduced substance abuse, mental health problems and criminal behaviour in later life

Longer term, the GBG will have a positive impact on children’s educational attainment and increase their resilience to risks.

Mentor CEO Michael O’Toole said, “The Good Behaviour Game is a well-established programme of prevention which could be deployed more widely to address the precise issues Tom Bennett’s report has identified. Mentor has embarked on an ambitious research programme and all indications point towards a very encouraging outcome showing GBG to be a highly effective programme. Obviously it is considerably more cost-effective to prevent problematic behaviour at an early stage of children’s development than having to address it later.”

Learn more about the Good Behaviour Game: gbguk.org